The Tempest: GCSE Model Essay 2 for Y11s

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“I’ll bear him no more sticks but follow thee, Thou wondrous man.”  Photo by ME at the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival, 2012.

If this is the first time you’ve read an essay here, please take a look at this post before proceeding.

MY CLASS WILL BE TAKING THEIR GCSE PAPER ON THE TEMPEST THIS MONDAY.       I WISH THEM THE VERY BEST OF LUCK!

It is this lack of intelligence, or of understanding, that propels him towards making the same offers to Stephano as he did to Prospero twelve years earlier – a move which led to his enslavement.  Sections of the audience would approve of the ways in which Caliban is easily taken advantage of.  John Hawkins started the slave trade with his first voyage in 1562, just two years before Shakespeare was born.  For many Europeans, blacks were simply slaves.

GCSE MODEL Essay based on AQA specimen question paper, and marked as follows:

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PTS 04/018 It’s Not You … It’s Me

BH christopher sly

The Taming of the Shrew (Induction)

For a while now, it’s been a vague ambition of mine to catalogue, mind map, or in some other way classify Shakespeare’s comedy, both in the comedic plays and elsewhere.  In doing so I AM mindful (for those who know their SF) of the Asimov short, ‘Jokester’, where finally getting an answer as to why humans laugh results in humour dying forever …

Still, I’m always and increasingly drawing intertextual links between and beyond Shakespeare’s plays, and this is what strikes me about what Arden calls the ‘Induction’ – the Christopher Sly frame.  It’s a cousin, maybe an ancestor, of the Rabelaisean idea of ‘Carnival’ that appears later on in:

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PTS 03/014: Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable …

BH Blanche Dubois
“Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable.  It is the one unforgivable thing in my opinion and it is the one thing of which I have never, never been guilty.”  (BLANCHE:  A Streetcar Named Desire (scene 10), Tennessee Williams)

Henry VI part III: Act I

So …

Part III begins, as Part II ended, with Warwick, perhaps reinforcing his role as ‘kingmaker’, and with the suspicion – to be dealt with later, maybe – that Henry is a ‘Jonah’ on the battlefield.  Whoever’s side he appears on (note I don’t say ‘fights’ on) he seems to suck the fighting spirit out of the army like a Dementor whose puppy has just been killed in a hit-and-run accident …

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PTS01/005: Where’s a night-tripping fairy when you need one?

bh-talbot-in-battleO, that it could be proved

That some night-tripping fair had exchanged

In cradle-clothes our children where they lay,

(KING HENRY IV:  Henry IV 1, I.i.85-87)

Henry VI 1:  Act IV

Talk about someone having ‘greatness thrust upon them’!

O, Henry, Henry, Henry … Continue reading “PTS01/005: Where’s a night-tripping fairy when you need one?”

PTS01/002: Shameful Complacency; Priapic Dolphins

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Henry VI Part 1:  Act 1

And off we go.  First-time visitor?  Click here and here to find out what Ponytail Shakespeare is all about.  Then come back, read, and comment – either here or at the Shakespeare Reddit sub.

On to the play, and post two of God knows how many in this project.

I wonder if I lowered my expectations too far …

To shrug and say it was fine, good, OK, would be to do the opening act of Henry VI part I a disservice. Sure, there were moments of clunkiness – not least when the French Master Gunner feels the need to declare – to himself, his son, and thereby the audience – his employment: 

‘Chief master gunner am I of this town’. (I.iv.6) 

But overall, it’s been an entertaining start.

Continue reading “PTS01/002: Shameful Complacency; Priapic Dolphins”